NASA Develops Water-Extracting Robot for Exploration

February 13, 2013

When it comes to exploring uncharted territories, we’re pretty limited by the tech that can get us there, whether it’s the dark and highly pressurized ocean depths or far-off planets and moons. Despite the lack of warp drives and transporters, NASA is hard at work to push the technological envelope and keep our opportunities for exploration open.

NASA Now Has Robot Gas Station for Space, Robot Miner for the Moon
by Evan Ackerman

This little guy is named RASSOR, which is obviously pronounced “razor” and equally obviously stands for “Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot.” Regolith is a fancy geology word for dirt, and RASSOR is designed to autonomously drive around the Moon and scoop up dirt with those toothy drums. The entire robot only weighs about 100 pounds, but it can haul up to 40 pounds of dirt. The idea is that RASSOR would be sent to the Moon along with a larger lander, and then autonomously rove around 16 hours a day, pouring loads of dirt into a processing plant on the lander which would extract water, hydrogen, and oxygen from it. Let the system run for long enough, and we could head to the Moon knowing that there’s a nice big pile of water, air, and rocket fuel waiting there for us.

Read the full article at IEEE Spectrum. It’s hard not to have your imagination piqued by images of terraforming robots and space colonies! Do you think space robotics will one day become a sizable part of the industry? What private companies do you know of that are working hard on aerospace applications?